W Series S3 Preview
Season 3 of the W Series kicks off on May 7th at the Miami Grand Prix, a sunny setting and a bright future for the much needed Championship.
It's felt like a very long time since the W Series ended, right? In fact it ended at the US Grand Prix in October 2021 but the hiatus came with an appetite for more. I was in a bit of shock when the season was over, "already?!" I remember thinking. 6 races, inevitably, wasn't enough for fans of the women-only series and so I for one was very excited to see that increase to 8 for this year as it continues to be a support race for the Formula One season.
That isn't the only positive change either. This week Sky announced their partnership with the W Series, broadcasting the entire season with an impressive ensemble of presenters, commentators and analysts including: Sky's newest member Naomi Schiff, Ted Kravitz and long time supporter of the series, David Coulthard. To see the growth and momentum that the W Series has taken after just 2 full seasons is paramount to the audience's acceptance of it - giving women the chance to join the ranks has something that has long been overdue, and we all know it.
I'm particularly excited to see the return of sole Champion Jamie Chadwick as she continues to push for a seat in a higher series. Chadwick candidly admitted that finance, not competitiveness was holding her back from a seat in Formula 3 or 2. I've talked about the pathways into Formula 2 before and it's disappointing that the system is such where talent and money are unequivocally paired. Chadwick joins the newly created Jenner Racing, named after and owned by Caitlyn Jenner. Caitlyn is openly trans, another massive call from the sport who seem to be utilising their startup mentality to set new boundaries unheard of in the single-seater world. American Chloe Chambers will partner Jamie Chadwick at Jenner Racing, a debutant for the new season.
Season 3 also sees new drivers for the Academy Team - established for the younger drivers on the grid as a grassroots growth program. The inclusion of this team highlights the series' commitment to talent development in an otherwise ruthless world of competition. The team sees rookies Bianca Bustamente and Juju Noda compete from the Philippines and Japan respectively. At just 17 and 16 they represent the future of the sport, and demonstrates how preemptive the W Series are with their hope of drivers eventually making it to Formula One. We all know that Chadwick deserves a seat in a higher series, but that change takes a long time. By widening the age group and bringing in young talent as early as possible, the series increases its chances of achieving its goal.
The series' savvy approach of laying foundational groundwork as it continues to expand is ultimately why I believe the Championship will only continue to succeed. No longer seen as a filler, but something to look forward to in its own right, is a testament to the work that has gone on behind the scenes in this long 6 month absence. There's little to rush with the W Series and their business acumen as well as their ability to entertain allows me to put my trust in the sport. At a time where I often feel conflicted about the governing of Formula One, or the toxicity of fanbases on the internet, I'm genuinely looking forward to enjoying some racing again.